ABeCeDarian levels C and D teach word study skills while levels A and B are a solid phonics/reading program. These levels are so different that I am reviewing them separately. Levels C and D can be used as a totally separate program, independent of the first two levels of ABeCeDarian.
Author Michael Bend describes the first two levels of ABeCeDarian as focused on the phoneme level of reading and spelling while levels C and D teach morphemes—prefixes, suffixes, and root words. In the lessons, morphemes are mixed and matched to create hundreds of different words. The idea is that if students know many morphemes, they automatically have the information to understand the meanings of many new words that they might not have previously encountered.
Unlike the first two levels, the same resources are used for both classroom and homeschool instruction. These two courses assume a classroom environment with a teacher presenting the lesson. Level C is recommended for students reading at third or fourth grade level while level D is for students at fifth or sixth grade reading level. Parents will need to work with students through both books, but students should be able to work through some of the activities on their own in D.
Level C presents both English and Latin prefixes, suffixes, and root words. There are ten units with from nine to thirteen activities per unit. Author Michael Bend recommends that 20 to 40 minutes be spent on each session, which generally will mean completing at least two or three activities per session. You might be able to complete C in as few as ten to twelve weeks depending upon the pace and frequency of your sessions.
There are a variety of activities in each unit, with most of the activities being repeated again with different groups of morphemes in the rest of the units.
I don’t have space to describe all of the activities, but they have students work with the morphemes in many different ways to develop skills in decoding, spelling, syllabication, pronunciation, and vocabulary.
While some other books that teach word roots gloss over changes in pronunciation even when words share similar elements such as the words execute and executive, ABeCeDarian teaches about syllables and accents as well as strategies for determining the correct pronunciation. One type of activity even uses multi-syllable nonsense words for practice. Some activities direct the teacher to mispronounce a word and have students correct the teacher’s error.
ABeCeDarian also addresses the various spellings of prefixes that change depending on the root that follows—prefixes such as “in” changing to “im” for import and “ex” changing to “e” for emerge.
In some activities, student workbooks have a chart with sets of prefixes, roots, and suffixes at the top from which they will construct a number of real words. Another type of exercise gives students partial sentences to complete, but they have to incorporate a vocabulary word in the second part of the sentence. Yet another activity has students sort words under their correct original prefix—e.g., sorting words such as suggest, suffer, and success under the prefix “sub” on page 89.
Some activities direct students to interact with each other and the teacher, but most of these can be adapted for use with a single student.
For level C there is a student workbook and a teacher manual. This teacher manual is even easier to use than those for levels A and B because it reproduces each student page on the right page with answers overprinted, and it also provides all of the instructional information including a script for lesson presentation on the left page
Level D continues with word study, although it presents words with Greek roots rather than Latin. Like level C, it has ten units with nine or ten activities per unit. A page near the beginning includes some helpful instruction on Greek spelling that helps students understand how English acquired words with a /k/ sound spelled “ch.”
Unlike level C, D is not scripted for the teacher. There is one book, and it has brief instructions included on student pages. Some activities required interaction with a teacher but many do not. Activities are very similar in style to those in level C, so students who have completed level C should find most of the exercises familiar. I think that homeschooling parents will generally do best starting with level C to become thoroughly familiar with the style of activities in these books where everything is fully explained. However, some explanation is provided at the beginning of level D for those who want to jump in at this level. Answers are at the back of the book.
These courses, especially level C, both require more teacher involvement than do other courses that are popular among homeschoolers that teach morphemes. However, the trade off is that the variety of activities; work on syllables, accents, and pronunciation; plus the helpful explanations are likely to produce higher levels of learning than takes place with other resources that students work through on their own.